Wednesday, April 16, 2014

... prompted by love of Him ...

Yesterday was the first time I renewed my priestly consecration at the Chrism Mass with my brothers in the Atlanta presbyterate, and other priests serving in the Archdiocese, along with Archbishop Gregory and our Auxiliary Bishops, Luis & David. 

Msgr. David Toups, Rector of St. Vincent de Paul Seminary in Boynton Beach, FL, led the priests' day of reflection, with time for prayer and fraternity. How wonderful it is to be with the Lord, and with one's brothers!

In Monsignor's morning reflection, he invited us to meditate on the promises that we would be renewing during the Mass. The line in bold is what caught my heart, and has been with me since then. It is all for love of Christ! Pray for your priests, especially this week!

Beloved sons,
on the anniversary of that day
when Christ our Lord conferred his priesthood
on his Apostles and on us,
are you resolved to renew,
in the presence of your Bishop and God's holy people,
the promises you once made?  
I am.  
Are you resolved to be more united with the Lord Jesus
and more closely conformed to him,
denying yourselves and confirming those promises
about sacred duties towards Christ's Church
which, prompted by love of him,
you willingly and joyfully pledged

on the day of your priestly ordination?  
I am.  
Are you resolved to be faithful stewards
of the mysteries of God
in the Holy Eucharist and the other liturgical rites
and to discharge the saced office of teaching,
following Christ the Head and Shepherd,
not seeking any gain,
but moved only be zeal for souls?  
I am. 
The beautiful prayer attributed to St. Francis:
Absorbeat, quaeso, Domine,
mentem meam et cor meum
ignita et melliflua vis amoris Tui
ab omnibus quae in mundo sunt;
ut amore amoris Tui moriar,
Qui pro amore amoris mei dignatus es mori
May the power of your love, O Lord,
fiery and sweet as honey,
wean my heart from all that is under heaven,
so that I may die for love of your love,
you who were so good as to die for love of my love.

"Renewing my 'yes' to God"

The Georgia Bulletin just published my column for Holy Week. 
Long after the stores have sold their discounted Easter bunnies and peeps and moved on to the next thing, the Church will be singing her amazement at the empty tomb and her Savior, her hope, who now goes before her in triumph.
For seven of us, ordained last year in the Cathedral of Christ the King as priests of Jesus Christ, this Holy Week and Easter will be particularly memorable. The invitation, however, is for all of us, during this holy season.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

The Cross reveals first, who you are in your depths

In Trost und Süssigkeit
  In  consolation and sweetness
   kennst du dich selbst nicht, Christ,
    know      you     yourself      not,    [O] Christian
Das Kreuze zeigt dir erst,
 The       Cross       shows    you     first
   wer du im Innern bist.
    who   you   in [your] inner [parts]   are.

That is a poem by Angelus Silesius, a 17th century priest, who wrote couplets of incredible precision and beauty.

I saw this post on Catholic World Report:
The blog is not about him, but about a 17th century priest-mystic-poet whom the great Catholic theologian and humanist Hans Urs von Balthasar has called “one of the greatest poets of the west”, ranking him with Homer, Virgil, Dante, and Shakespeare. His name was Johann Scheffler, but he went by the name of Angelus Silesius.
The blog is not about him, but about a 17th century priest-mystic-poet whom the great Catholic theologian and humanist Hans Urs von Balthasar has called “one of the greatest poets of the west”, ranking him with Homer, Virgil, Dante, and Shakespeare. His name was Johann Scheffler, but he went by the name of Angelus Silesius. 
And he is right. They absolutely are a treasure! Simple. Two lines, but, like a two-edged sword, they pierce through to the division of soul and spirit, joint and marrow ...

(We also have Fr. Fessio's audio recording of each. His German sounds authentic!)

Here's another:

Wird Christus tausendmal
  Were      Christ          a thousand times
           zu Bethlehem geboren
             in      Bethlehem             born
Und nicht in dir, du bleibst
  And       not      in  you,      you    remain
         noch ewiglich verloren.
            still         eternally             lost.

Also read von Balthasar's epilogue to his collection, also on the "anti-blog"

Thank you, Fr. Fessio! What a gift! 

Prince Ave. in the Spring

I'm often asked, "So how are you liking Athens?" I always reply, "I love my parish!" As to Athens, I've not really had much time to explore. The parish takes up most of my time, and on my day off, I tend to go to Atlanta. Weekends are always occupied.

Taking advantage of cancelled appointment, and the beautiful weather today, I took a walk around Prince Ave. It really is a pretty area, especially around the Cobb House and the Cobbham Neighborhood. I put up all the photos on Flickr. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Behold I knock

And you, whoever you may be, to whom Divine Providence should bring this book, be you great or small, poor or rich, wise or ignorant, priest or layman, monk or nun: go now to the foot of the altar and contemplate Jesus there, in the sacrament where he hides. Remain there in silence. Say nothing to him, Look upon him and wait for him to speak to you in the depths of your heart. You will see him. I have died, he says, and my life is hidden in God until I appear in my glory to judge the world. Hide yourself in God with me, and do not think of appearing until I appear. If you are alone, I will be your companion. If you ar week, I will be your strength. If you are poor, I will be your  treasure. If you are hungry, I will be your food. If you are afflicted, I will be your consolation and your joy. If you are bored, I will be your delight. If you are falling, I will hold you up. "Behold I stand at the door and knock: if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me." I do not wish for a third: none other but you and me. 

Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet, "A Life Hidden in God," in Meditations for Lent, an anthology published by the wonderful folks at Sophia Institute Press. I bought the whole set before Lent. A very worthy investment! 

We have this ...

... your argument is invalid.

Whether the Society of Jesus is greater than the Order of Preachers.

"it makes our Lord facepalm."

Bumper stickers needed. 

A Bishop of Rome celebrates the old Mass

This is fantastic news for those attached to the Vetus Ordo! (Via NLM)
The Fraternity of St Peter’s Roman parish, Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini, was very honored to welcome as the celebrant of the Mass for Laetare Sunday His Excellency Matteo Zuppi, the Auxiliary Bishop of Rome responsible for the pastoral care of the city center, including Trinità dei Pellegrini. This was the first time that an auxiliary of Rome durante munere has celebrated Mass in the Extraordinary Form in a Roman parish since the post-Conciliar liturgical reforms began, and the whole parish community was very glad to accede to His Excellency’s request to say the Mass.
(Image from NLM)

Fr. Z's take on this.

Incidentally, I was privileged to serve as Deacon at the main Mass on Pentecost Sunday last year at the Pantheon in Rome (also, it turns out, the last post on my once-super-secret seminary blog), just a few weeks before my Ordination to the priesthood. The celebrant was the same Mons. Zuppi. He was very gracious in the sacristy to this American transitional deacon, and readily gave me his blessing in anticipation of my upcoming Ordination. A couple of the sacristans vested me in a beautiful antique dalmatic. The Archpriest saw this and came over and roundly scolded them. "Cosa fate, lei é un vescovo?"The dalmatic I was mistakenly given was meant to be worn by the Bishop, underneath his chasuble, which is the traditional vesture for a Pontifical Mass. It was neat that the Bishop was wearing this for an OF Mass as well. What I got to wear was also a worthy, noble vestment, as the photo in the link above shows.

At the US-Mexico Border today ...


Thursday, March 27, 2014

We *are* in the end times ... !

A comment appeared on the post below in the moderation queue. One of those end-time prophecy conspiracy theory things. You know, how the Pope having this kind of crucifix fulfills this prophecy. And how Benedict's resignation is that kind of prophecy. The propensity of the human mind to find patterns and hidden meanings everywhere is truly endless. 

The comment didn't get published. In response, I shared the comment on my FB wall, and started adding a few clarifications. It grew into this. I've added a Bible verse to each line as well. 

For the record, we are in the end times written about in the Book of Revelation. The Life, Death & Resurrection of Jesus Christ inaugurated the last age of the cosmos! As to the rest:

  • follow the advice of Jesus ("No one knows the hour ..." Mark 13:32) 
  • stay close to Him and His Mother, in the Church He established. (John 15:4; John 19:25; 1 Tim 3:15)
  • the Sacraments are the ordinary way of increasing the life of grace within us. (John 14:9. Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. Christ is the primordial Sacrament who reveals the Father) 
  • Pray. Hard. (1 Thess 5:17)
  • flee immorality and sin. (1 Cor 6:18)
  • Love God above all things and love your neighbor as yourself, especially the poor and needy. (Luke 10:27; Luke 10:30-37) 
  • that is, take seriously the call to holiness. (1 Pet 1:16) 
  • discern your vocation, and follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit. (Gen 12:1-9; Mt 16:24-28; Gal 5:16)
  • the true test of the guidance of the Holy Spirit is a willingness to obey the teachings of the Church and the legitimate shepherds Christ appointed. (2 John 1:6; 1 Tim 3:15; John 14:23-24)
  • let Christ and the saints be your guide, not the world and its shiny lights and loud voices. (Mark 9:7; 1 Cor 11:1; 1 John 2:15)
  • look *forward* to Christ's coming with eager anticipation. His friends should want His Kingdom to come! We pray for it every time we pray the Our Father. And for His friends, the King's return is a day of rejoicing! (Mt. 6:10; Mt 25:6; Rev. 22:17)
  • help spread His Kingdom. In your life, and all around you. (Luke 9:2; Matthew 28:16-20)
  • do not fear the tribulations of the end time. (Rev 2:10; Rom 8:38-39)
  • know that the world has been going to "hell in a hand basket" for a long time. Actually, since that whole apple incident. (Rom 3:23; Rom 8:20-28)
  • That is, there is no Golden Age. The Church has always been a sign of contradiction, and the Enemy of our race has always been attacking her from without and within. Back when Christendom was alive and well. Back in the glorious Middle Ages, the Age of Faith. Back in Byzantium. Back in the time of the Fathers (when the Roman Empire was crumbling all around them). (Luke 6:26; John 15:18-21)
  • take the Enemy seriously. "Your opponent the Devil is prowling like a lion ... resist him." (1 Pet 5:8)
  • where sin abounds, grace abounds even more! (Rom 5:20)

And most importantly:

Be not afraid! The war has been won! Christ died for sin! Christ has Risen and death has no longer any power. Death, where is thy sting? Where is thy victory? Christ has Risen from the grave, trampling death by death, and to those in the graves, bringing life! (Rom 5:8; 1 Cor 15:14; 1 Cor 15:55; 1 Tim 3:16; Acts 2:32-33) 

SCS Parish Mission "Rediscover the Joy of the Gospel"

I was invited by Fr. Matejek, pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Kennesaw to preach the parish Lenten mission, which was held on March 23-25. It was a joy to be back at SCS -- I served there as a transitional Deacon in the summer of 2012, and received such a hospitable welcome from the clergy, staff and parishioners! The parish was incredibly generous and hospitable in hosting my First Mass the next year, in June 9, 2013.

I've uploaded the mission talks to a YouTube playlist, for those who might be interested.

The theme was taken from Pope Francis' Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, which is a rich and fascinating read! I took as the framework for the talks, the Gospel for the Third Sunday of Lent, Cycle A -- Jesus' encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well.

In my research for the talks, I used several sources, most of which I didn't acknowledge while speaking. Here are the titles of the three talks with the principal sources.

Monday, March 23: Repentance & Mercy

The medical analogy comes from this brilliant post by Msgr. Charles Pope of the Archdiocese of Washington. It's worth a read.

Tuesday March 24: The Joy of the Lord

  1. One section is almost verbatim from a piece by Dr. Peter Kreeft on Joy
  2. The distinction between natural and supernatural joy comes from a great homily by Fr. Cassian Folsom OSB, of the monastery of St. Benedict in Norcia, Italy. 
  3. Finally, there is Pope Paul VI's relatively unknown, but very worthwhile, Apostolic Exhortation on Christian joy, Gaudete in Domino

Wednesday, March 25: Spirit-filled Evangelizers

  1. The title of the talk is from Chapter 5 of Pope Francis' Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium
  2. The section on the vocation of the laity comes from the Decree of the Second Vatican Council on the Apostolate of the Laity, Apostolicam Actuositatem

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A lovely photo

Back in December, I traveled to the frozen tundra of Minnesota to attend the episcopal Ordination of Fr. Andrew Cozzens as Auxiliary Bishop of St. Paul-Minneapolis. A holy man and a true gift to the Church!

The official photographer emailed photos from the reception today. This is my favorite -- receiving the newly ordained Bishop's blessing, with my dear friends from St. Paul, Deacons (soon to be Fathers!) Marc and Marcus.

At the blog post linked above I mention the Handmaids singing in honor of the Bishop. This is the rather shaky video I took. The sound is great. I am so glad I took this video ... I have played it often in my days of preparation leading up to the renewal of my Marian consecration on the Solemnity of the Annunciation yesterday. It's been delightful to have it stuck in my head.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Talium est enim regnum caelorum

After the Spanish Mass, a lady was waiting patiently to talk to me. ¿Padre, está Ud. apresurado? Always busy, Señora, but tell me ...

I was tired at the end of a long day, and my Spanish suffers as a result. It took me a while to figure out what she was saying. She only wanted to give me some money. She said she had been in jail a while back, but was acquitted and released. She works as a waitress to support her family. "I don't make much, but I want to give something of what I've earned. One part for the church. The other to help someone like me -- someone who is coming out of prison. God helped me so much," she said, wiping away tears. "You would know how to get it to someone like that, Padre."

It wasn't a huge sum in absolute numbers. But it was weighty! Weightier than millions! More lustrous than all the gold of Sheba. I smiled and thanked her. She took my hand, knelt and kissed it. I sat in silence after she had left.

What a joy, what a privilege to see Christ at work in His little ones. Talium est enim regnum caelorum ... to such as these belongs the Kingdom of Heaven. 

The Widow's Mite. Basilical of S. Appolinnare, Ravenna. 6th C.